Saturday, December 10, 2005

 

Possible Site of White House Treasure Ship Found

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Business Wire
December 06, 2005

NEWTOWN, Pa. -- Sovereign Exploration Associates International, Inc.(OTCBB: SVXP), announced today that Artifact Recovery & Conservation, Inc. (ARC), a portfolio company of SVXP, has been conducting an archaeological survey of the site off the coast of Halifax, Nova Scotia, under an official Treasure Trove licensing agreement with the provincial government. Under the licensing agreement, the province will receive a 10 percent royalty on any official "treasure" recovered, including specie and artifacts. The remaining artifacts will belong to ARC.

The focus of the exploration has been the location where it is believed the Fantome, a French brig captured by the British in 1810 and used as a gunboat during the invasion of the Chesapeake in 1814, went down on November 24, 1814, three months after British troops invaded Washington, D.C. Surviving manifests for the Fantome indicate that it was carrying valuables taken from the White House, U.S. Treasury and Capitol Building when it was lost on a reef of rocks near Prospect, some 20 miles southwest of Halifax, while escorting a convoy of ships.

Curtis Sprouse, COO of SVXP, says that no actual wooden ships from the period are left on the site, having long since disintegrated. The company hopes to find what remains of the ship's historic cargo. It believes the cargo and history of the Fantome will yield tremendous educational and economic value. Although items clearly linked to Washington, D.C. and the British Navy - including American coins and buttons from officers' uniforms - already have been recovered, Sprouse says that neither the company's independently retained chief marine archaeologist, James Sinclair, who worked on the wreck of the Titanic and other historic sites, nor its independent conservator, Ian Cross, is prepared to say the site of the Fantome itself has been pinpointed. The involvement of both Sinclair and Cross in the project has been approved by the Province of Nova Scotia. The company is dedicated to a careful, responsible excavation, he said, and has a 25-year record of meticulous marine exploration.

"We believe that the preservation and presentation of history is of utmost importance. We are proud of the approach we take to these sites," Sprouse said.

The War of 1812, often called "The Second American Revolution," was prompted by British interference with U.S. sea trade with Europe. On August 24, 1814, British soldiers invaded Washington and looted and burned key government buildings, including the Capitol and White House. President James Madison's wife, Dolley, managed to save a full-length portrait of George Washington and a few other possessions before fleeing the presidential mansion just prior to the soldiers' arrival.

British naval records describe the Fantome as "a fine French corvette brig letter of marque...with ports for twenty heavy carronades," a short gun half the weight of an equivalent long gun. It carried a crew of 74. Although its role in the bombardment of Ft. McHenry is not clear, it did participate in the British attack on the Maryland city of Havre de Grace on May 2, 1814.


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